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Many homeowners in Washington take advantage of the abundant rainfall and ideal soil composition to create beautiful landscapes and gardens they can enjoy spending time in.  However, depending on the type of landscaping you have, the colder temperatures of the winter can pose a problem.  The good news is this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to start from scratch the following spring.  There are several things you can do now to protect your landscape through the winter season and ensure your plants are ready to bloom when the warmer weather returns.

Be Strategic About the Plants You Choose

An important aspect of landscaping is to choose plants that are not only pleasing to the eye, but are also able to handle the colder weather.  There are many varieties to choose from, each with their own unique attributes.  Certain types of pansies and violas are popular choices, as they are accustomed to the colder temperatures and are able to survive the winter with ease.  Shrubs and trees are ideal choices as well, as they go dormant over the winter and their extensive root systems allow them to continue to receive nutrients from the soil.  If you’re wanting to add to your existing landscape, spring bulbs are a great option, as they need the colder weather in order to bloom.

Mulch is Your Friend

If your current plants aren’t suited to the winter, or need some extra help to get through the season, mulch is essential.  While we typically think of using mulch during the initial stages of landscaping, it doubles as a natural insulation system, protecting plants and their root systems from the harsher conditions.  This doesn’t need to be wooden mulch, either; you can repurpose your raked leaves and falling pine needles from your Christmas trees to use, although it’s a good idea to run your lawnmower over the leaves to break them down into smaller pieces.  This allows the leaves to naturally decompose into the soil over the winter, making the spring cleanup easier to handle.

Be sure to spread an even, thick layer of whichever mulch you choose over your landscaping.  This will insulate the plants from the colder air temperatures, protecting the root systems from freezing.  The mulch also acts as a shield against the sun, keeping the soil at a moderately steady temperature throughout the season.  Without that protection, the sun can warm the soil and trick the plants into blooming prematurely, which can cause the plants to die as the conditions are not favorable for new growth.

While mulch is a natural protector from the elements, it doesn’t work in all cases.  For especially vulnerable plants and new trees, covering them with tarps or containers specially made for blocking out the colder air and wind is a worthwhile investment.  This also applies to non-plant landscaping as well: if you have a fountain or any decorative water features, it’s vital to drain the water out of them and cover them with the proper insulation to prevent any residual water from freezing and causing cracks or water line breaks.  If your water installation uses a pump, it’s a good idea to bring it inside your garage for the winter to prevent any damage from occurring to the delicate inner workings.

Add a Drainage System

Out of all the preventative measures you can take, ensuring a proper drainage system is in place is key.  If your landscaping is built around an area of your yard that is sloped or lower than the surrounding ground, water will be more likely to pool and freeze, damaging your plants’ root systems.  If the landscaping is leveled, it can lower the risk of this issue, but you can still run into issues if the ground is packed too tightly or doesn’t naturally drain well.  

The best way to navigate this obstacle is by installing a drainage system that complements the existing landscape.  This will help to divert groundwater that passes under the surface of your yard, as well as assist the additional moisture caused by sleet and melting snow to drain away from your garden quickly.  It also helps ensure that a healthy amount of moisture remains in order for the root systems to continue absorbing water throughout the winter.

How We Can Help

At All Seasons Earthworks, our passion is helping Washington residents navigate the challenges winter poses to their yards.  For over 20 years we have assisted our customers in finding the perfect drainage system that fits their needs, whether that means replacing parts of the existing system, or installing a new one altogether.  We start everything with a free consultation to ensure that we can examine all aspects of your landscape and natural drainage in order to present you with the best options.  To get started, give us a call at 425-263-2075 or send us a message online; we’d love to meet with you.